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The fourth stop on our tour was Butte, Montana. Just as you shouldn’t play favorites with your kids, I won’t show partiality to any of the cities we brought Skull Church to, but I will say that this event was a spiritual highlight of the tour. I had never set foot in Butte and didn’t know much about it before this fall, but while we were on the road I watched a documentary that PBS produced on the history of the town. It is fascinating and you can watch it on YouTube here.

In case you don’t have an hour to spare, here is the dime version: Butte was a mining boom-town. It was predominantly silver that was mined here until the advent of electricity–when they discovered that the ground was rich with copper that was increasingly in demand–and wires began to be strung from building to building from coast to coast. They could hardly dig the stuff out of the ground fast enough to keep up with the insatiable appetite for it. At one point copper from Butte was used around the nation more than from any other mine.

The population exploded as people from all over the world descended on the city. At one point the “no smoking” signs in the mines had to be printed in 16 different languages because the miners were so culturally diverse. The night life ran to keep up as well. The city was home to a booming red-light district with a brothel that is reportedly America’s “longest running house of prostitution.” At one point Butte was the largest city west of the Mississippi, a place prospering so much it was dubbed, “the richest hill on earth” and referred to as Butte, America. (As opposed to Butte, Montana because it was such a hip, cosmopolitan place)

All that came crashing down when mining was stuttered in 1982. The same year I was born the activity that gave the city its identity dissolved suddenly into thin air. Today Butte is a shadow of what it once was. Where there used to be 100,000 people living here, today the population is a third of that size. It is certainly no ghost town, but the evidence of different days gone by are everywhere you look and they say that it is shrinking faster than any city in the state.

We had the event at the historic and beautiful Motherlode, a theatre with a past as storied as the city itself. As the crowd arrived and I prepared to speak, I felt so much love welling up in my heart from the Lord. Speaking to one of the local pastors I heard that many young people crack that, “happiness is seeing Butte in your rearview mirror.” I felt such a sense of assignment as I preached to tell them that leaving this city might just be what they are supposed to do, but if they leave to fill a hole inside them they will bring their problems with them wherever they go.

I hope the Lord gives us the opportunity to return to Butte and do ministry again soon, because it was such a joy to watch people find something far better than silver or gold in a relationship with Jesus. Regardless of what is or isn’t happening in the city economically, in God’s heart, the glory days for the people who live there are not in the past but are yet to come.

Here is the Skull Church Butte lookbook:

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Our third stop on the tour was the capital of Idaho–Boise. This was the third state capital we have done an event in. (The other two being Helena and Denver) And the Egyptian Theater, where we had Skull Church, sat downtown just a few blocks away from the Idaho State Capitol Building. The Egyptian is this rad, super kitschy historic venue that was originally called the Fox but was garishly done over with over-the-top egyptian-swagger to commemorate the discovery of King Tut. It feels like you are on the movie set of The Mummy. Things to check off my bucket list: Preach under an enormous, golden scarab beetle.

I love Boise. In the last few years it has become one of my favorite cities to visit and I like it more each time I spend time in the city. From the downtown with a big-city feel and the University with it’s much loved Broncos stadium to the river that runs right through town and mountains within striking distance you have the perfect blend of urban and outdoors. There are killer restaurants, and a lot going on. From what I can tell, the people that call Boise home are laid back, easy going and not super high strung. In my estimation the quality of life is good in this gem of a city that comes across as much less imposing than a city of it’s size often does.

We saw God do a great work and many were impacted by the love of Jesus. I pray that all the churches that participated in the event will continue to grow and take new ground in this awesome city.

Here is the Skull Church Boise lookbook:

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The second city we came to on our autumn Skull Church tour was Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. This event was mysterious going into it. I had never set foot in the city before and had no idea how insanely beautiful it is or how the event would be received. I was blown away by both. The city is situated on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene which explains it’s nickname as the Lake City. I must admit I was relieved to discover that it also goes by CDA which helped me out greatly until I mastered the correct way of spelling Coeur d’Alene–no small feat!

CDA is the largest city in the Idaho panhandle and after Boise it has the biggest population in the state. The churches that supported the event were great and showed up to serve with flying colors. I was told by one of the pastors that a number of them had been getting together to pray leading up to the event, and that makes all the difference in the world. When the event kicked off the Schuler Performing Arts Center was packed and the atmosphere was electric. It was probably the most energetic crowd of the whole tour. The response to the invitation was extraordinary, people streamed down the aisles to give their lives to Jesus; and I am praying that they all get plugged into the churches in the area as they grow in their new relationships with Jesus!

I also had one of the best pizza experiences of my life at a little spot downtown. I can’t remember the name of the joint but my pizza came with sriracha on it and everyone knows that rooster sauce takes everything to the next level. Until next time CDA!

Here’s the Skull Church Coeur d’Alene lookBook:
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We just got back from the first Skull Church tour we have ever taken. It was exhausting and exhilirating. Busy and beautiful. Over the next week or so I am going to post about each city. A few words but mostly images from the road that tell the story of what we saw God do. Compressing it all into one post just wouldn’t do it justice and this way it spreads the fun out for a while.
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Spokane was the first place to stop. Having the opportunity to preach the gospel on the Skull Church stage in this city was emotional and special. When Lenya was young she had a number of allergies that we didn’t know about that caused her to break out in painful rashes constantly. She had been misdiagnosed as having eczema and it wasn’t until we traveled to a specialist in Spokane that the real problem became known. Consequently, we took a number of trips from Montana to Spokane for her to see a specialist before between her first and third birthday. Whenever I am in Spokane a flood of memories come to mind of our little family in the middle of cold winters trusting God in the midst of a trial that He brought us through.

All that medical drama she went through early on is in fact one of the reasons it made it so difficult when she went to Heaven several years later. Because we had made it through the worst of it–or so we thought. It had been two years with almost no hiccups and it seemed we had gotten into a rhythm with her allergies and asthma. When, out of nowhere, she had a monster attack that claimed her life we were completely blindsided by it.

All that to say, with those kinds of thoughts and emotions fluttering around inside, having the privilege of telling people about the hope that is available through knowing Jesus gave me great peace and purpose. There is nothing more comforting than trying to give comfort to other people.

The Fox Theater where we had the event is gorgeous. Vibe-wise it is totally Great Gatsby-ish. Watching people respond to the invitation was magnificent. I can’t wait until we return.

Here is the Skull Church Spokane Lookbook:

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Happy October everybody! I have been thinking of this date, October 1st, for a long, long time. In addition to it being the first date of the NW Skull Church tour it is also the due date for the manuscript of my book Thomas Nelson. I have writer friends who have told me you can always get an extension but I really wanted to get it in on time. And I did! We clicked send together all as a family and sent my final draft off to Thomas Nelson! It really was exciting and a special moment for us as a family. The journey has been difficult and God has been faithful. I really believe in this project and I can’t wait to see God use it as it goes out far and wide.

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Being in Spokane is also extra special as we have come to this city many, many times together as a family. Lenya’s allergist was here and when she was really young and had health problems we came here for her to see nutrition specialists. We are believing God is going to do big things through this Skull Church tour. If you can’t make it to Spokane, you can join us on the webcast 7pm pacific at skullchurch.com. Blessings!

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